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11th Dec 2022

Jamie Carragher highlights Gareth Southgate flaw as Gary Neville turns on referee

Patrick McCarry

Jamie Carragher

“Absolutely awful.”

Gary Neville has directed the bulk of his World Cup frustrations and disappointment at referee Wilton Pereira. Jamie Carragher, meanwhile, has been more constructive with his criticism.

The England wait for a second World Cup trophy will stretch on to at least 2026 after France beat Gareth Southgate’s men 2-1, at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, to reach the semi-final.

England were awarded two penalties – one of which was missed by Harry Kane – but players, supporters and the ITV commentary team were all baying for more, after some close calls in and around the France box. Following the English quarter final exit, Neville declared:

“The referee, I thought he had an absolute nightmare. He’s a joke of a referee, him. People will say it’s excuses, but he was just bad.”

The former Manchester United and England defended, who vowed pre-tournament to highlight issues of inequality and human rights abuses in Qatar, was left treading the same pundit path of blaming a referee for a team’s woes.

“That’s not me blaming the referee for England going out, or anything,” Neville insisted to Sky Sports, the morning after. “I just thought Pereira was absolutely awful… I thought he had a shocker.”

Neville not making excuses there but bringing up English-only examples of perceived injustices:

Jamie Carragher on Gareth Southgate flaw

France started well and deservedly took the lead, only to sit back to defend it. England grew into the game and were full value for their equaliser, through Kane’s first penalty.

Jamie Carragher felt this was the moment for Gareth Southgate to make changes to his England side, and take advantage of being on the front foot against the reigning world champions. Stating in his Telegraph column that England missed a golden opportunity for World Cup glory, the former Liverpool and England defender wrote:

“England were on top at 1-1, yet there was still a strong argument for being proactive on the bench because before a ball was kicked it was striking how much more weaponry Southgate had on his bench compared to Didier Deschamps.

This is not a point being made in retrospect. I wrote as much before the game and during it. It is difficult to shrug off the feeling that the power England possessed in the squad was not fully utilised when the moment of truth arrived.”

Carragher felt Marcus Rashford or Jack Grealish could have entered the fray, with Phil Foden moving into a more central role.

“Instead, the substitutions happened after France went 2-1 up,” he added. “If that sounds brutal on the manager and players, it is intended as much in praise of how well they played and how much potential they had to go further.”

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